Lawmakers and regulators are increasingly expressing concerns about the rise and use of manipulative design techniques implemented into user interfaces across web pages, social media networks, apps, and platforms that trick and deceive users into an action that they would not have taken without the manipulative design. Collectively these are referred to as ‘dark patterns’, a term coined as ‘tricks used in websites and applications that make users do things that they did not mean to, like buying or signing up for something’. As dark patterns are deliberately designed to confound users or make it difficult or expensive for them to express their actual preferences, regulators in the United States and Europe have begun, not only raising their disapproval of, but introducing legislation to prevent their use and have even brought enforcement proceedings against major technology platforms accused of using dark patterns. This panel aims to discuss the role of consumer protection, in particular the Unfair Commercial Practices Directive and consumer protection enforcement for protecting users from all forms of data driven manipulation.
• Can consumer protection regulation mitigate the shortcomings of data protection law in dealing with dark patterns and data-driven manipulation?
• How can using evidence-led insights into how dark patterns manipulate behavior inform policy and rule makers?
• How will changes to the Unfair Commercial Practices Directive provide protection from dark patterns and data driven manipulation?
• Can consumer protection bridge the enforcement gap?